Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for the ‘the 11 best foods (NYT)’ Category

Beets with potatoes and fresh grated coconut/Beet Thoran

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 14, 2010

This is a continuation of the posts I have been writing using the food ingredients touted by the NYT as the 10 best foods we normally don’t think to consume ( /the-11-best-foods-you-arent-eating. On top of this list are beets. I have already posted a recipe for a beet soup here. Today, I want to post a recipe for beet toran, a toran being a type of curry with roots in southwest India (Kerala). The idea here is to temper beets and onions with an infusion of cooking oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger and dried red peppers and cook till the beat crunch is just on its way out. I also add potatoes to provide textural contrast to the crunch of the beets, but you could leave ‘em out if that does not appeal. This dish is tranformed in the last 5-10 min when grated coconut is added. As the coconot gets roasted, it releases coconut oil (this oil is good for you, until further notice) and provides a nutty, toasted coconut flavor. I serve it with rice and raita or some lentil/dal concoction. The next day, I take it to work rolled in whole wheat tortillas.

For the infusion:
3 tbs. oil
1 tsp Black mustard seeds
6-8 Curry leaves or more (available at Indian grocery stores, leave out if you cant find them)
1 dried red chili broken into pieces (optional)
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic

3 medium sized red beets, grated in the food processor.
3 medium sized potatoes microwaved till nearly done (10 min in my dinosaur microwave).
½ cup grated unsweetened coconut (thawed if using frozen coconut- available at Indian grocery stores)
1 tsp coriander powder
Pinch of Asofoetida (hing)
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika (adds color and flavor, but no heat)
1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
cilantro for garnish (if desired)

Mince the ginger and garlic and grate the beets in a food processor (this would be very tedious if using a box grater). Heat cooking oil in a large wok (I use a 14” Chinese wok) or cast iron pan. When the oil gets hot, add the mustard seeds, asofoetida, curry leaves, dried chillies, garlic and ginger till the seeds sputter and a delicious aroma fills your kitchen. Add the beets, then the coriander, turmeric, salt, paprika and stir to mix. Allow beats to cook till they nearly lose their crunch (about 10 min on fairly high heat). The idea is not to allow the beets to release water and steam in their own juices, you want the stir fried taste. Now add the potatoes and continue to stir till the potatoes turn bright read (1-2 minutes). Add grated coconut and allow the coconut to heat up, release oil and get just slightly browned- about 5-7 min. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and lentils or naan and raita.
The times provided here are for a wok, which is very thin walled and heats up to a high heat. A cast iron pan would also do nicely. Adjust the heat if using a steel pan.
Note: Do not throw the beet stems and leaves. You can chop them into this right here. But if you are a purist, they can be used in a soup or a Chinese stirfry at a later time.

Posted in Asian, Indian Food, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, the 11 best foods (NYT), vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Mixed lentils (Dal) and Swiss Chard

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 4, 2010

Legumes like dal are a principal source of proteins (unfortunately, also carbohydrates) for vegetarians. The chief ding on them is that they are a second class of proteins since individually, they do not contain all 23 essential amino acids that humans need to make body proteins. But, if you mix them, they very nearly constitute a first class protein, like those derived from animals. Cooking mixed lentils is a trick nearly all of India’s cuisines use. Served with a bit of yoghurt or raita on the side, you in fact have a perfect source of first class proteins, which is reasonably low in calories. Use a combination of whole (skin on) and skinned lentils or just whole lentils and you have made this even healthier (and tastier). Now add some greens and vegetables and you’ve got yourself a complete meal in a pot. For this version, I used chard, to continue my blogs about the 11 best foods you are not eating according to New York Times).

Dals are typically tempered (infused with spices) after they have been cooked with a tadka, a mix of spices, dry and fresh, seeds and ground, often in conjunction with with onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. A tadka is a highly personal thing and many variations are possible. Here, I have used panch-phoran, a Bengali spice mix of 5 seeds : fennel, mustard, Nigella (onion seed/Kalonji), fenugreek (methi) and cumin (in some versions) with a mix of other spices. Panchphoran has a unique flavor, but if you cant find it at the Indian grocery store, use cumin seeds alone or a combination of cumin and fennel seeds. It won’t taste the same, but it will still taste darn good.


½ cup green lentils, available at Whole Foods
½ cup mung beans (yellow lentils): available widely
¼ cup urad beans (available in Indian stores)- substitute any other quick cooking lentil (e.g. red lentils/masoor dal) that you might have.
7 cups water
1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
¼ tsp turmeric
2 leaves swiss chard chopped into 1” pieces (including the stems)

The tadka (what you will temper/flavor the dal with)

1 tsp panch phoran (Indian 5 spice mix- available at Indian grocery stores;
1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
½ inch ginger grated (optional; I skipped it this time)
1 tsp roasted cumin, ground (optional)
½ tsp coriander ground
2 tbs. vegetable oil.
½ tbs. ghee or butter
½ cup shallots (or onions) finely chopped
1 tomato (any kind, I used vine ripened)

cilantro for garnish (optional)

Place lentils/dal in a large sauce pan and wash thoroughly in 3-4 changes of water, rubbing the lentils between your fingers. Add the water, chard, turmeric and salt. Set on medium heat (uncovered) and cook stirring on and off for 45 min or until the lentils are soft and the water turns opaque (this will vary with the lentils you have selected). If you have a pressure cooker, this will take half the time. While the dals are cooking, prepare the tadka.
Put the vegetable oil and ghee/butter in a small sauce pan. When hot, add the panchphoran, cinnamon stick and ginger till the mix is fragrant about a minute. Dont do this for long because the Nigella (onion/kalonji) seeds in the panchphoran can become bitter. Immediately add shallots and cook for 5-7 min till shallots are just beginning to brown. Add the tomato and cook till it falls apart and you have a shallot-tomato mush. When the lentils are ready, add the tadka to the dal and mix thoroughly. Adjust the salt if needed. Garnish with cilantro if using. Serve with naan, yoghurt or rice or simply eat as a soup.

Posted in Asian, Indian Food, Main Dishes, the 11 best foods (NYT), Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

How to peel a pomegranate

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 22, 2010

This is a continuation of my blogs that have to do with the New York Times article entitled, “the 11 best foods you aren’t eating”. Pomegranates are on this list. Many people feel that the only way to consume a pomegranate is to drink its very expensive juice. Not true. The fruit is now widely available in the US. Also, for reasons I don’t understand, commercially available pomegranate juice does no justice to the wonderful flavor of the real fruit. Unlike the juice, the fruit is not terribly expensive and a single fruit can serve as a side at dinner/lunch for 3 people. So even though it is tedious to remove the fruit from the pith, a little goes a long way and the results are worth the effort. Enjoy.

Method: Purchase pomegranates with a little give to them. With a sharp knife, cut the fruit into half beginning at the stem. Then quarter the pomegranate. Gently break each quarter into smaller pieces by hand. You should see some red seeds/fruit moulded into a honeycomb like pith, and also some membranes covering the seeds. Remove the membranes by hand. Holding the pomegranate with your left (non-dominant) hand, use your right hand to pry the seeds/fruit from the pith. Eat pomegranates by themselves, in a salad or over a pudding or custard.

Note: The seeds are edible, so don’t spit them out.

Posted in Side Dishes, the 11 best foods (NYT), Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 21, 2010

I have decided to post some blogs using the food ingredients touted by the NYT as the-11-best-foods-you-arent-eating. On the list are pepitas or pumpkin seeds. I looked up the nutritive value of pepitas and I have to admit, that even for a vegetable junkie like me, these little seeds packs a punch. Besides, they are delicious roasted lightly and then eaten by the handful (1/4 cup servings are recommended) or tossed with a salad or pasta or ground into various curries (more on this later).

Here is how you roast these suckers.

14 oz. raw pepita (available widely, e.g. at Whole Foods)
½ tsp cooking oil
½ tbs. butter
Salt to taste (optional).

Spread the pepitas evenly in a jelly roll pan or any large pan with a lip. Melt the butter in the microwave, mix the oil. Coat the pepitas with the butter-oil mix. Toss with salt. Roast at 350˚F for 7-8 min (convert to your favorite measurements on the right). The pepitas will turn from green to mostly brown Do not over-roast, they don’t taste as good and lose their nutritive value. Store in an airtight container and eat frequently as suggested above. Believe me you are going to like these.

Posted in condiments, Side Dishes, the 11 best foods (NYT), vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: